Friday, 24 November 2017

The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged newly qualified doctors who are posted to rural communities to undertake their housemanship not to see it as a form of punishment.

According to President Akufo-Addo, “the early Ghanaian doctors of legend, the pioneers who built the medical profession, such as Charles Easmon, Silas Dodoo, Cornelius Quarcoopome and Felix Konotey-Ahulu, amongst others, on their return home from qualifying in England, went to work in the rural areas with relish and enthusiasm, at a time when our country was less developed and with fewer infrastructure.”

The President added that “the missionary and sacrificial aspect of this noble profession, young doctors, must not be lost on you.”

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Saturday, 12th August, 2017, when he delivered a speech at the 50th congregation and 5th oath taking and induction ceremony of the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cape Coast.

With Ghana’s doctor-population ratio being approximately one doctor to eight thousand patients, President Akufo-Addo noted that this ratio is even more lopsided in the rural and deprived communities of the country.

“I do not put all the blame on our medical doctors’ unwillingness to work in these communities. If we have good road network, and good schools are available around the country and not only in the urban centres, if we have electricity supply in all communities, we would not have to be asking, indeed, insisting that our young doctors go to work in the rural communities,” he said.

Once these conditions are in place, President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that doctors would, then, find well-developed rural communities, which may be more attractive settings to bring up their young families.
The President was, however, pleased with the programme instituted by the School of Medical Sciences, under which medical students of the University spend six weeks each year in rural communities in the Central and Eastern Regions.

“This is aimed at giving them strong community orientation, and also increasing their awareness of the interrelationship between lifestyle and health. I hope and pray that this enables them to build lifelong and healthy appreciation of the situations in our rural communities, which would stay with them long after they have qualified,” he noted.

As the nation trains more doctors to solve the shortage of doctors, President Akufo-Addo noted that more must be done to keep them in the country, and not lose them to the advanced economies of this world.

“We will only retain our trained doctors and other professionals, when agriculture and industry are thriving, when we have better roads, better communications, better schools, better housing, reliable and cheaper power supply, and better drainage.

On my part, I am determined to work to help ensure that these improvements we all want in our lives become reality. Until that is done, we have to equip those currently in training and the fresh doctors to do a little more out of the ordinary to bring relief to the present situation,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo urged the young doctors to feel privileged to work amidst the mysteries of life, as well as gain the trust of patients and treat each one with dignity. He also admonished them to listen and give respect all their colleagues in the healthcare chain – technicians, nurses, clerks, cleaners, et al.

“You will be surrounded by death, but please remain human and do not lose your emotions. People will die, but many will be healed, complications will occur, but make sure you remain true to science, the truth and reason. And in doing so, never lose your faith in God. I have no doubt you will continue to discover, as all the great scientists have, the presence of the Omnipotent One in the ordering of the Universe,” he said.

The President continued, “Let your Hippocratic Oath be your guide and guard in the discharge of your duties. Your joy and fulfillment should lie in the well-being of your patients.”

Published in Politics

The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the finances of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) are being sorted out in order to improve access to quality healthcare, as well as ensure that health workers are unencumbered and free to do their work.

Reiterating his determination to solve the problem of unpaid bills to healthcare providers, President Akufo-Addo noted that the NHIS is at the core of the country’s health delivery system, and government has a duty to make it work.

“So far, government has, by dint of prudent management within the short space of seven months, cleared GH¢560 million out of the GH¢1.2 billion of debt inherited.

I am told I can confidently say that we will settle all the arrears within the next 12 months. This year, we are up to date on the payment of claims to service providers. It is essential that the businesses of healthcare providers do not collapse,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo made this known on Saturday, 12th August, 2017, when he delivered a speech at the 50th congregation and 5th oath taking and induction ceremony of the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cape Coast.

With the major burden of healthcare in Ghana coming from diseases that are preventable, President Akufo-Addo noted that these are better dealt with at source and in the communities, rather than to wait until they become problems at the hospital level.

“It requires better sanitation, and not better medication, to deal with cholera, which seems to have reared its ugly head again in our country, especially since 2014. I hope that such programmes, as you have instituted here, would position the students to play good advocacy roles as healthcare providers within the communities they work in after their studies,” he said.
Outlining the problems that bedevil the health sector, such as the challenge of bridging the equity gap in access to healthcare between urban and rural Ghana, the production and distribution of health personnel, and high under-five and maternal mortality rates, President Akufo-Addo noted that some of the answers lie in improving the physical infrastructure of the health sector.

His government, the President assured, will strive to complete ongoing projects around the country, as well as expand health promotion programmes, scale up disease prevention strategies and enhance access to curative and emergency services.

On the BOT arrangement being entered into with a Canadian group to build infrastructure at the University, President Akufo-Addo noted that such initiatives are admirable and are to be expected from a University, whose Chancellor is one of the most renowned entrepreneurs of Ghana’s generation.

“I hasten, however, to add a word of caution. I think we should learn, from previous and unfortunate bitter experience, that such arrangements should not be done on the blind side of government. I will strongly urge, if you have already not done so, that you seek the blessing of the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Attorney-General to the arrangement,” the President said.

He continued, “There is currently a difficult situation at the University of Ghana that should serve as a useful lesson for all public tertiary institutions, which seek to engage in such arrangements.”

Government, President Akufo-Addo indicated, will continue to make capital outlays in the health sector, and has begun to undertake a number of healthcare projects across the country to bring the provision of healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the people.

All these projects, he added, are geared towards expanding health facilities in the country, and creating ready job opportunities for students in health disciplines in the country.

“We have a duty to ensure that this School is well-equipped to produce capable medical doctors with all the skills needed to improve the quality of medical practice in our country. It is my expectation and hope that graduates from this School will be motivated to take on the challenge and the opportunities for higher achievement through innovation and creativity, in the science and technology-led, knowledge-driven global economy,” the President said.

Published in Parliament

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